2008 Hyundai Tucson SE 4WD – Test drive and new SUV review – 2008 Hyundai Tucson SE 4WD Sport Utility Vehicle

21 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2008 Hyundai Tucson SE 4WD – Test drive and new SUV review – 2008 Hyundai Tucson SE 4WD Sport Utility Vehicle
Hyundai Tucson

A nice crossover, and single

As Hyundai rushes toward respectability and luxury, there’s still plenty of room to explore at the bottom of their lineup. The plucky Accent. the feisty Elantra. the capable Tucson. The 2008 Hyundai Tucson is the smallest SUV in the Hyundai lineup, and one of the most appealing.

The 2008 Hyundai Tucson SE 4WD carries a base price of $22,735 ($23,650 as tested), a 5 year/60,000 mile basic warranty, a 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty and an EPA estimate of 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway. Let’s drive.

First Glance

Larger Exterior Photos: Front Rear

Hyundai introduced the Tucson as a 2005 model, and has pretty much left it alone since then. In the interim, they’ve relaunched the Santa Fe and brought out the Veracruz. both larger and more fully-equipped crossovers. Tucson bears a family resemblance to Hyundai’s other Southwestern crossovers — what is it with those names, anyway? — especially to Santa Fe.

That’s not a bad thing.

Tucson can easily be described as cute. It has a slightly snubbed nose. a short hood and a perky stance. It reminds me of a Boston Terrier, a cute little dog that has no idea how small it is.

Tucson takes all of the Santa Fe styling cues and compresses them into a smaller package.

Tucson comes quipped with standard 16 double-spoke alloy wheels. which fill the big wheel arches nicely. I could do without the bodyside cladding, which is a little clunky-looking on an otherwise sleek exterior.

Exterior fit and finish is very good, with tight gaps and seams, and nicely lustrous paint. My one gripe with Tucson’s design is with its tailgate. While I appreciate the flip-up glass window, its shape and size make the opening difficult to navigate with grocery bags — and isn’t that why you want a flip-up rear window in the first place?

Continued below.

In the Driver’s Seat

Clean and neat dash design.

Photo #169; Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai has built its reputation for value by including a long list of standard features on its vehicles, and keeping the price down at the same time. Tucson benefits from this approach. At the base price, you get an AM/FM/Cassette/CD/MP3 stereo, power windows, power door locks, air conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry and a whole lot more.

Don’t look for upscale luxury appointment or options, like leather heated seats or a factory navigation system, because you won’t find them. What you will find is a pleasant cabin with cloth seats on the GLS and SE models, leatherette on the Limited, a nicely arrayed dashboard with a very friendly instrument panel. and an acceptable level of comfort.

Tucson’s driving position is quite upright. The tilt-adjustable steering wheel could use a telescopic adjustment, but I had an easy time finding a good driving position nonetheless.

My front seat passengers were quite impressed with the space and the expansiveness of their view out the front window.

Tucson’s second row is another story. I’m about 6’2 tall, and with the driver’s seat adjusted for my comfort, even a short adult had difficulty sitting in the second row behind me. I was able to cram myself in the back seat for a test as well. I had adequate head and shoulder room, but it was difficult to find a good compromise position for the front and second row leg room.

Make sure that you take your size and your regular passengers’ sizes into account, and check Tucson for fit before buying.

On the Road

My test Tucson came with a 2.7 liter V6 packed in under the hood. The engine sent power to all four wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission (the only available choice), cranking out 173 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. There’s also a four-cylinder engine available in the base model GLS which is good for 140 hp and 136 lb-ft of torque.

At 3,548 lbs, the SE 4WD is no lightweight, which is probably why it doesn’t excel in acceleration or in efficiency.

Hyundai Tucson

Tucson’s handling is nothing to complain about, but nothing to write home about either. Hyundai has made all the right moves — setting up Tucson with four-wheel independent suspension, power assisted rack-and-pinion steering and stabilizer bars front and rear. Somehow it doesn’t all feel connected, giving a vague, floaty driving experience that doesn’t inspire confidence on the curves.

Fourth gear is an overdrive, so Tucson kicks down into third frequently under load, like when you’re going up a slight incline. It’s hard to drive Tucson assertively and smoothly at the same time without feeling like you’re thrashing the poor thing.

Hyundai makes a big deal about their safety systems, and for good reason. Tucson has a ton of standard safety features right out of the box, including four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with electronic brake force distribution, electronic stability control with traction control, six airbags, five star safety ratings in front and side crashes and a four star rating for rollover.

Journey’s End

Flip-up glass is a nice feature, if oddly shaped.

Photo #169; Hyundai Motor America

My friend Ellen used to set me up on a lot of blind dates. They never worked out, even though her friends were without exception lovely, charming and intelligent. They had all the right parts, but the chemistry never worked.

Tucson reminds me of many a blind date. It has all the right parts, but it never worked for me. Perhaps it was the static charge that built up from sliding out of those premium cloth seats. Perhaps it was the lack of road feel through the steering wheel.

Whatever it was, I just didn’t fall in love with Tucson.

There are several other small crossovers I would look at before settling for Tucson. I love the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4. and I measure the competition against them. The Nissan Rogue is also quite good, and can be a lot of fun to drive. Don’t overlook the Suzuki Grand Vitara. the Kia Sportage and the Mitsubishi Outlander.

For a few thousand dollars more, Tucson’s slightly larger cousin, Santa Fe. offers a lot of value for the money.

Don’t be afraid to take Tucson out for a date. Keep an open mind, and see if the chemistry works for you. Like my friend Ellen used to say, What could it hurt?

The worst that could happen is you figure out what you really want. The best that could happen is you might fall in love.

At least Tucson takes regular, not like Ellen’s friends, who all insisted on premium.

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Hyundai Tucson
Hyundai Tucson
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